Although Cyprus forecasts warm weather until the end of November, Famagusta hoteliers are closing shop this month as the state pulls back its COVID support and tour operators shy away.
In comments to the Financial Mirror, the Cyprus Hotel Association Famagusta branch chairman, Doros Takkas, said most hoteliers in Ayia Napa and Protaras will be forced to shut down as tourist flows thin and operating costs rise.
Takkas said this negative development is primarily because tour operators bringing tourists to Cyprus will not be given any more support or incentive by the government to continue working in this direction during the winter.
Up until September, tour operators were given financial incentives to continue bringing tourists.
“By giving incentives to tour operators, we would, as a country, be receiving ten times more from tourists than what we would have spent to get them here,” argued Takkas.
He said this is has caused issues with tour operators, especially from Russia, as Russian tourists have “been the backbone of this year’s tourist season”.
“What was the point of stopping the incentive program when we needed it the most. The program was stopped just when flights and arrivals were picking up, especially from Russia,” said Takkas.
He further believes the government’s decision to stop sponsoring the salaries of hotel employees from October adds more strain on Cyprus tourism enterprises.
“The state was subsidising 60% of salaries of every six out of ten employees at a hotel unit.
“That translates into the state subsidising 35% of a hotel’s labour cost. With the program stopped in October, hotels are in difficulty. That is why the majority of Famagusta hotels will be closing down.”
Takkas said the 2021’ season was powered mainly by the Russian market, followed by Ukraine, Polish and the Czech markets.
He said British tourists were absent for most of the summer, making their appearance from mid-September.
Messages from largest market Britain for next year are encouraging with larger numbers expected.
A recent uptick in bookings and flights for autumn has Cyprus tourism stakeholders hopeful for a strong end to the season.
In the first nine months of the year, Cyprus saw 40% of arrivals compared to a record 2019 (pre-COVID), August and September; however, reached an impressive, under the circumstances, 65%.